GPS Coordinates: -8.959146 39.498294
- North Open prayer area: 0.1 degrees
- Oldest part of the mosque: 356 degrees
The Great Mosque of Kilwa is a congregational mosque on the island of Kilwa Kiswani, in Tanzania. It is the earliest remaining mosque structure on the East African coast. The Great Mosque, which now stands at the edge of modern Kilwa, was built in several distinct stages, which can be seen in the marked difference between the earliest small mosque, a northern prayer hall built in the eleventh and twelfth centuries and the subsequent fourteenth century southern enlargement. Furthermore, segments of a tenth century foundation predate both sections of the existing mosque layout. The Great Mosque of Kilwa, which is entirely roofed by domes and vaults, has since its construction been widely acknowledged as one of the first mosques built without a courtyard. A Qibla wall is in the north side of each of the building stages. The sanctuary measured about 7.8 meters side and 12 meters along the qibla axis.
There is a definite difference (5 degrees) between the qibla of the southern part of the mosque and the qibla of the later north section. This mosque would have been built by Arab merchants sailing to the coast of Africa, and the Qibla direction most likely set by one of their navigators.